International Women's Day and the Disability Employment Gap

Image Credit:  Tyler Feder

Image Credit: Tyler Feder

Post by Chief Sender of Hugs, Faye.

Post by Chief Sender of Hugs, Faye.

I love International Women’s Day. It’s always so heartwarming seeing women celebrate themselves and women who inspire them. I love that there’s a whole day with a collective focus on togetherness, reflection, advocacy and action on women’s issues.

This International Women’s Day, I hope that more than ever, the voices of women with disabilities, and how they can best be supported, are included in the conversation.

At BearHugs, we’re particularly interested in accessible employment, and so, today seemed the perfect time to shine a light on something we care a lot about - employment opportunities (or lack thereof) for women with disabilities.

At BearHugs, we’re particularly interested in accessible employment, and so, today seemed the perfect time to shine a light on something we care a lot about - employment opportunities (or lack thereof) for women with disabilities.

At BearHugs, we’re particularly interested in accessible employment, and so, today seemed the perfect time to shine a light on something we care a lot about - employment opportunities (or lack thereof) for women with disabilities.

 

Here are a few not-so-fun-but-important facts:

Just under half of disabled women are neither employed nor actively seeking work, meaning that many may not be able to support themselves financially. For those who do have a job, there is a disability pay gap – for women with certain impairments, this is as large as 18.9%.
— Equality Human Rights
Disabled women earn less (22.1%) than non-disabled men, a gender pay gap four percentage points higher than between all men and women. Disabled women earn 11.8% less than disabled men.
— Women's Budget Group

There are of course a lot of people with disabilities who, very understandably, aren’t in a position to think about work. But that still leaves a lot of people with disabilities, a higher proportion of whom are women, who’d jump at the chance of employment given the right inclusive opportunity.

Worryingly there is a common misconception that employees with disabilities will be less productive or efficient. This is despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary. There’s so much potential out there that isn’t being tapped into by employers. And there are far too many people with disabilities who aren’t able to earn a living for themselves, showcase their talents and feel the benefits that rewarding work can bring.

Our own experience here at BearHugs is that disability of employees has absolutely no bearing on productivity. We feel incredibly lucky to be able to have a talented, committed, close-knit team who work together effectively and efficiently despite the fact that we’re not all in the same place and half of us work part-time and flexibly.

As we grow, it’s going to be important to me to keep learning and speaking up about this.

I’m determined that before next year’s International Women’s Day rolls around that we will have even more evidence of our own to demonstrate that inclusive employment not only works for individuals but for business too. I hope other employers reflect on and work on their own inclusivity too.